A year after the INS Sindhurakshak “catastrophe”, the Naval Headquarters is poised to fix responsibility for the mishap that claimed lives of 18 sailors and sank the submarine.
A Board of Inquiry (BoI) report into the incident has been submitted to the Integrated Headquarters of MoD (Navy) on July 31 for further analysis and Navy officials said the elaborate BoI has analysed human, procedural and technical reasons that might have resulted in the disaster. “The BoI report has been laid in the IHQ MoD (N) and is being analysed by professional directorates at Naval HQ,” said Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma.
BoI PROCEEDINGS UNDER EXAMINATION
Sources said the outcome of the BoI would validate the learning experience for the Navy during the process of the inquiry. “We lost 18 of our men. Audits were carried out by external agencies post the incident. Checks and balances have been put in place and standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been revisited. The operational directorates of the Navy are now studying the report to find if anybody is responsible for the mishap,” Sharma said.
INS Sindhurakshak, one of the 10 Russian Kilo class diesel-electric submarines that were inducted into the Navy between 1986 to 2000 sank after a series of explosions in the torpedo compartment of the vessel on the night of August 13-14 last year.
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BoI IN PROGRESS
The incident, followed by series of accidents involving Navy ships and mishap on INS Sindhuratna, resulted in resignation of then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D K Joshi.
While the first BoI looked into the circumstantial information collected immediately after the mishap and submitted the report within a month, the second BoI started its work almost five to six months after the incident. This inquiry which analysed the forensic, ordinance related information has now been completed.
While the Navy might never disclose the contents of the BoI owing to security reasons, an officer said that those who need to know the causes of the incident already knew what went wrong. “The Navy has carried out precise analysis of the incident and lessons have been learnt. Aspects such as whether it was a human error, procedural shortcoming, technical snag or a pure mishap have been delved into in great detail. The Navy is of the view that the findings of the BoI should not come out in public domain from the point of view of security; the right people who need to know, know the reasons of the mishap. To that extent, the BoI has been elaborate. It went around trying to find the truth. Considering the gravity of the mishap; the corrective action now could be material, technical or human,” an officer said.
Analysts, however, felt there were larger questions that the mishap raised. “In case of submarines, where there is little room for errors, double checks always exist. But simply because the inquiry takes time to find out the causes, your operational preparedness cannot be compromised. Incidentally the INS Sindhurakshak mishap occurred at harbour, had it happened in the sea, the navy would have required a Submarine Rescue Vessel (SRV) which has been overdue for almost 15 years. I hope the Navy and the MoD accelerate the procedure to procure the same besides other such crucial requirements,” said Vice Admiral J S Bedi, former flag officer commanding in chief, Western Naval Command.